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Weston Wagons West - Ep. L5 - Levi Weston continued to meet Oak Springs people in Jefferson City

Updated on February 5, 2015
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Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

Learning and Labor at Oberlin College

Beth Davis was an Oberlin College graduate
Beth Davis was an Oberlin College graduate | Source

Levi Weston first met Beth Davis at a Jake Patton reception

Levi Weston had first met Beth Davis as the young wife of prominent Jefferson City business leader Drexel Davis sometime in the late 1840s at one of Jake Patton's receptions. Levi remembered that the gathering had centered around educational opportunities discussions, but he didn't think much about it, at the time. This time, Jake introduced her as the Headmistress of the Davis Academy for Girls, in Jefferson City. It turned out that her husband had died and left her a sizable estate. She had used a portion of those funds to found an Academy for the education of young women in the area.

He also learned that Beth was a graduate of Oberlin College, in Ohio, in the early 1840s, among the early graduates of that first coeducational college, it seemed. Levi perceived that Beth was near his age, but he would never ask, of course. Levi had not had the opportunity for formal higher education, himself, but was very well read, and valued education highly, as did all of his family. Jake knew this, as well, and had been including Levi in more such gatherings, recently. This gathering, in June of 1851, also included Hugh and Victoria Truesdale, from Oak Springs, along with their daughter, Jane. As the evening progressed, Levi learned that the Truesdales were hoping to enroll their daughter, Jane, in the Davis Academy for Girls in the fall. Levi realized that making that connection was one reason for the gathering, in Jake's typical subtle (or not so subtle, if one were paying attention to his motives) ways.

It appeared to Levi that both Jane and her parents had made a positive impression on Beth Davis, at least in this setting. Beth had also made an impression on Levi, it seemed, and the feeling were mutual. Before the evening ended, she had invited him to join one of her Book Clubs - a bi-weekly small group, becoming fashionable in the area among the educated elites, to discuss a book each would be reading to share ideas and progressive thoughts. Levi was delighted to be invited and looked forward to the first meeting. The book the club would be discussing was Ralph Waldo Emerson's Essays.

Emerson published a number of works

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The first novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series of historical fiction

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Image of Ralph Waldo Emerson dated 1859
Image of Ralph Waldo Emerson dated 1859 | Source

Levi Weston moved toward life-changing decisions in the early 1850s

Participating in Beth Davis' Book Club did not cause him to embrace Transcendentalism, as espoused by Emerson, but it did open his mind to considerations of personal possibilities to which he had not previously conceived. He came to realize, through extensive candid discussions with some truly fascinating and thoughtful people, that he really controlled his own destiny. He gave a great deal of thought to the alternatives this approach entailed. Previously, he had only seen his destiny as supporting and continuing his family's interests.

During this time, also, his brother, Ezra, had made his life decision to stay with the farrier trade, and with the blessing of Jacob, and Levi, they all cooperated to support that decision. Jacob, by this time, was devoting nearly full-time to his fright line business. Hiram, meantime, also decided to join his father, Jacob, working for the freight line. These decisions, as it turned out, also allowed Levi to choose an alternative that had not been in his mind, at all, even five years earlier.

While Levi, for the first time, as he participated in the Book Club discussions, flirted (only in his mind) with the idea of a romantic relationship with the widow, Beth Davis, it did not take long for him to realize this was not only not to be, but was also an involvement with which he had no true interest in entering. This self-realization was part of his newly developing self-understanding of how he would be making decisions in the future.

A waterfall not far from Oak Springs

An Ozarks Mountain waterfall
An Ozarks Mountain waterfall | Source

Holly Berries in the southern Missouri Ozarks

Holly Berries growing in the Ozarks
Holly Berries growing in the Ozarks | Source

Jake Patton made the next move to draw Levi Weston further into his sphere of influence

In mid-May of 1854, Levi attended a graduation reception at Jake Patton's place for Jane Truesdale. She had finished her three years at the Davis Academy for Girls and Jake was pleased to host this very special event for his Oak Springs neighbors. He had also arranged for Harry and Sarah McDonald along with their daughter, Caroline, to attend, as well. Caroline was a candidate for attendance at the Davis school the following year. Harry McDonald and Jacob Weston had developed a business relationship with their two freight lines, as well, that found more and more in common, with basically non-competing but complementary routes.

Jake had also arranged for Gideon Inman, in the real estate and insurance business in Oak Springs, to be in attendance at this reception with the strong Oak Springs flavor. He made sure that Levi and Gideon had some meaningful conversation time. Jake also managed to have Levi, Jacob and Harry spend some time together. By the end of this reception, Jake had managed to plant a seed in Levi's mind that he would be a welcome addition to Oak Springs. They talked about horses, they talked about the need for a woodworker, and they talked of the need for a wagon and carriage builder in their growing small town a little over a hundred miles to the south.

Although he really didn't think it was a big deal at the time, Levi realized later on that Harry had provided the clinching piece of the decision he had not yet made. During their conversations, Harry said that if Levi would decide to move to Oak Springs, his company would buy the first two freight wagons that Levi build after his arrival. Over the next year or two, as Levi realized he had put himself in a position to "move on" from the family business, if he chose, the standing offer of known income in the new location of Oak Springs stood tall. Therefore, by the spring of 1857, Levi was planning for his first visit to Oak Springs and the Oak Creek valley of the southern Missouri Ozarks.

The latest novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series

Historical note by the author

As noted in Episode L1 of this series of historical fiction family saga stories, all of the characters in this episode are fictional. Activities and events are consistent with known historical facts, but are entirely fictitious. The Jacob and Levi Weston characters were first created as a part of The Homeplace Saga stories collectively identified as The Founding - during their later lives in Missouri. This current Lx series fills in the early years of their lives.

Some of the stories of the forthcoming "American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1875)" collection of historical fiction family saga short stories are being published on "The Homeplace Saga" blog, found at the link, below, including those introducing Levi and Jacob Weston.

“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”


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